Retd IAS officer among several found guilty of cheating, forgery after 24 yrs

Much-publicised Excise Scam

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Oct 28: Twenty-four years after filing of the charge-sheet by the Crime Branch in the Excise Scam of 1995-96, Additional Sessions Judge Jammu Tahir Khurshid Raina has found the accused prima facie guilty of the commission of offences of cheating and forgery which caused loss of around Rs 3 crore to the Government exchequer.
The charges against the accused will be framed on next date of hearing. They are Hansraj Mangotra (Retd IAS officer), Manoj Mangotra, son of Hansraj Mangotra, Amardeep Sharma, son of Manmohan Sharma, Kuldip Singh, son of Sarak Dev Singh Jamwal, Rashpal Singh, son of Gian Singh (dead), Rameshwar Singh, son of Gian Singh, Ripu Daman Sharma, son of Manmohan Sharma, Ashok Agarwal, son of Shadi Lal (dead), Sudershan Singh Jamwal, son of Narinder Singh, Thakur Shiv Ram, son of Rangu Ram (dead), Moolraj, son of Amar Nath (dead) , Sunil Masih Matto, son of Safiq Masih Matto, Surinder Singh, son of Balwant Singh (dead), Narinder Sharma, son of Isher Dass, Sardari Lal, son of Isher Dass (dead) and Randhir Singh, son of Gian Singh.
The scam is related to payment of contract bid of country liquor vends which was then allotted by the Government to M/s Kuldip Singh and Company for supply of country liquor vends to six different groups in Jammu province. The contract bid amount fixed to be given by the firm to the Excise Department was Rs 13.23 crore.
The bid money was to be deposited in banks and treasuries and thereafter their receipts and vouchers were to be presented before Excise Office Jammu to get permit of equal quantity of liquor to be purchased from Ware House on still head price. A bulk of more than 17,000 ltr liquor was allotted to the firm against the quoted bid money.
However, at the end of financial year, the DC Excise Jammu made a verification of the bid amount paid by the firm and found some receipts and vouchers doubtful. He sent them to concerned treasury and banks and on verification it was found that there was huge variation in the amount paid by the firm and that of shown in vouchers and receipts presented to Excise Office with a requisition memo for grant of permit for purchasing liquor.
For instance, they deposited Rs one lakh in the bank but on the voucher got from the bank added on more zero to make it Rs 10 lakh. This illegal practice continued throughout the year and this is how they caused around Rs 3 crore loss to the Excise Department.
On surfacing of this fraud, a complaint got filed by the then Deputy Commissioner Excise Jammu J S Modi to the Crime Branch and after completion of investigation charge-sheet was filed against 16 accused persons under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471, 477-A , 120-B RPC .
It was established in the investigation that accused partners in connivance with each other and some officials of Excise Department and then committed the crime of forgery and cheating whereby they have caused loss to the department. Even when the investigation was in progress, the accused deposited back around Rs 90 lakh of the total loss but that didn’t condone the offence committed rather established the culpability of the accused.
After hearing counsels for the accused and going through the charge-sheet, the court observed, “what’s unfortunate is that the stage of unveiling the crime and charging the accused has come so late that 6 out of 16 accused have died in the meantime and thus they could not got exposed to the writ of law”.
“But as the custodian of law and justice, the court has to ensure certainty of law to prevail even belatedly so that a message must travel across the society that law has to pervail sooner or later and no one can escape from the clutches of law for all times to come, provided he is alive”, the Judge said.
“On the basis of material on record, offences of cheating and forgery are made out against 10 surviving accused out of 16 and the charges will be framed against them on the next date as the physical hearing in the cases stand dispensed with in courts on account of pandemic COVID-19”, the Judge said.